Eco Mob Blocks London Main Roads

This morning Insulate Britain protestors blocked the Blackwall Tunnel, Hangar Lane, Arnos Grove and Wandsworth Bridge, causing chaos during Monday’s rush hour. It resulted in angry scenes with motorists – see https://www.lbc.co.uk/news/insulate-britain-london-a12-chaos/

This is yet another selfish action by such demonstrators. Transport Minister Grant Shapps said this over the weekend: “Recent weeks have demonstrated that the police need stronger powers to tackle those who illegally block motorways. Conservatives will introduce new laws to lock perpetrators up for 6 months, and face unlimited fines. We will not stand by while motorists are held hostage”.

The sooner such laws are introduced, the better, But clearly they need to cover all roads, not just motorways.  

Roger Lawson

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Biased Reporting by the BBC on the Silvertown Tunnel, including Paedophrasty

A queue of traffic on the approach to Blackwall Tunnel

A queue of traffic on the approach to Blackwall Tunnel

Yesterday evening an item on the BBC London evening news covered the announcement of London as a “National Park City” and the new Silvertown Tunnel. I have sent in the following complaint to the BBC about the bias in this programme and the use of children to promote an agenda:

“In the BBC TV London Evening News on 22/7/2019 BBC Transport Correspondent Tom Edwards reported on the “National Park City” and also covered complaints from schoolchildren at Thomas Tallis School and their teacher about the new Silvertown Tunnel. They complained about the possible air pollution from HGVs and the contribution generally to air pollution and global warming. There was no representative giving an opposing opinion except for the Mayor of London briefly explaining that HGVs would not likely use the new tunnel because it would be expensive for them to do so. There was nobody else who supports the new tunnel which will be of major benefit to many people and will not make air pollution worse in the area.

This programme followed on from a similar item by Tom Edwards in the previous week where a hysterical campaigner against the tunnel was interviewed, but again there was no contrary view represented of the substantial merits of the new Silvertown Tunnel.

Complaint 1: The BBC is not providing an independent and unbiased view of the merits of the Silvertown Tunnel as against those who oppose it.

Complaint 2: The BBC should not be using ill-informed schoolchildren in this way who had clearly been encouraged by their teacher and rehearsed in what they should say.”

The Silvertown Tunnel is essential tor relieve congestion at the Blackwall Tunnel which has long queues of traffic most days and where even a minor incident causes massive traffic jams. As a result of the often stationery or very slow-moving traffic, air quality is poor in the vicinity and may be actually improved by the new Tunnel. Air quality was reviewed carefully in the planning process and charges on the new Tunnel, and the ULEZ zone charges/restrictions, will reduce traffic and air pollution. It is unlikely that many vehicles will divert from the Dartford Crossing to use the new Tunnel.

Note that Thomas Tallis school is very near the A2 – the road that leads to the Blackwall Tunnel. It was probably an unsuitable location for the school when it was built. The solution is obviously to relocate it which in comparison with the cost of the Silvertown Tunnel would not be expensive.

If you wish to make your own complaint to the BBC over their biased reporting on this matter, go here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/ . You could also complain to Tom Edwards via Twitter: @BBCTomEdwards . These reports were typical of the environmental coverage by the BBC which never represents contrary views to the extreme eco-terrorism of such groups as Extinction Rebellion.

Using school children to promote the agenda of their parents or teachers is of course unethical and is a favourite ploy of Mayor Sadiq Khan. In this case it was used against him though.

Here’s a new word for you: paedophrasty – “An argument involving children to prop up a rationalisation and make the opponent look insensitive and uncaring. As people are defenceless and suspend all scepticism in front of suffering children, nobody has the heart to question the authenticity or source of the reporting. Often done with the aid of pictures.”

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Silvertown Tunnel Goes Ahead

Transport for London (TfL) have named the Riverlinx Consortium as the preferred bidder for the Silvertown Tunnel. This is the new tunnel to relieve congestion at the Blackwall Tunnels, something that has been desperately needed for some years.

The Consortium is a private finance project backed by several investors. They will get the build costs and the initial maintenance costs from a toll on the users of the both the Silvertown and Blackwall Tunnels. Some vehicles will also be paying an additional ULEZ charge because the tunnels will fall within the expanded ULEZ area.

TfL say they do not have the funds to finance such major projects despite the Mayor of London having an annual budget of over £18 billion, one of the largest for any municipal organisation in the world. Relying on private finance initiative funding has been shown to be one of the most expensive ways to provide public infrastructure in the long-term so this is probably another example of Mayor Sadiq Khan’s financial ignorance. Perhaps it’s a case of TfL being unable to borrow the money to finance the project as they are beginning to look like a basket-case of the first order.

The new tunnel should substantially reduce congestion and cut air pollution from the queuing or standing traffic that happens most days at present. The build contract should be formally awarded in the summer, with completion by 2025. But the Green Party are still opposing it.

Roger Lawson

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Silvertown Tunnel Gets Go-Ahead

The Government has given the go-ahead for the new Silvertown Tunnel in East London under the Thames. This will run slightly to the East of the existing Blackwall Tunnels which are one location of high traffic congestion every day. The slightest hiccup such as minor accidents or people running out of fuel in the existing tunnels or on the approach roads can create miles of traffic queues.

With the Secretary of State giving planning consent, and Mayor Sadiq Khan not apparently likely to block it despite the many objectors to the scheme, it looks likely that construction will start next year with completion in 2023. This is what the Mayor had to say: “I’m delighted that the green light has been given to progress with the Silvertown Tunnel. Since I became Mayor I’ve been determined to ensure the Silvertown Tunnel doesn’t have a detrimental impact on our environment. That’s why the new plans have such a focus on cleaner transport, with only buses with the highest emission standard using the tunnel, and substantial investment in pedestrian and cycling infrastructure.”

A toll will be introduced on both the new tunnel and the old tunnels to help pay for the scheme. Although there were objections on air pollution grounds, it is not expected to make matters worse in that regard and the smoother traffic flows will mean substantial benefits. That’s apart from the economic benefits of reducing the wasted time of people stuck in traffic jams and the improved public transport provision (the new tunnel will be large enough to accommodate double-decker buses).

Comment: We have submitted a number of supportive representations for this scheme over the last few years. For residents of South-East and North-East London this will prove to be a major improvement to the road network which is long overdue. Let us hope there are no further delays and that schemes for other Thames crossings are also progressed.

Roger Lawson

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Silvertown Tunnel – Air Quality Should Be OK

Transport for London (TfL) have published an “Updated Air Quality Assessment” for the Silvertown Tunnel. This is the tunnel proposed to run alongside the Blackwall Tunnel under the Thames in East London – it is urgently required to relieve traffic congestion at the Blackwall Tunnel.

There have been concerns that the additional vehicle capacity might worsen air pollution in Greenwich and also north of the river. It’s already bad because of the queues of traffic that form every morning and evening. But the report’s conclusions are that the Silvertown Tunnel will “not lead to a significant impact on air quality” and nor affect the ability to achieve compliance with the Air Quality Directive.

The Silvertown Tunnel was included in the Mayor’s Transport Strategy but is still subject to a Public Inquiry by the Planning Inspectorate and a decision to go ahead by the Secretary of State which keeps on getting delayed. We might get one in May, but there is still vociferous opposition to this sorely needed new transport link. The earliest date for completion, if given the go-ahead, is likely to be 2023.

More information here: https://tfl.gov.uk/travel-information/improvements-and-projects/silvertown-tunnel where you can see a “drive through” simulation.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Mayor Supports More River Crossings

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has committed to building more Thames River Crossings in a press release on the 4th October. These are to be “greener” and more “public transport focussed” he says.

It includes plans for a new pedestrian and cycle bridge linking Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf but the Silvertown Tunnel to relieve congestion at the Blackwall Tunnel will go ahead and a bus shuttle service for cyclists will be included in that.

He is also proposing to take forward an extension of the Docklands Light Railway from Gallions Reach to Thamesmead but there is no mention of a ferry or bridge for vehicles at that location as previously discussed. He has asked TfL to look at a new ferry between Canary Wharf and North Greenwich but there is also no mention of a replacement for the Woolwich Ferry where the ferries in use are nearing the end of their useful lives.

The new Silvertown Tunnel and the existing Blackwall Tunnel would be charged to pay for the construction of the former. Suggested figure is £2.50 per trip and there is a public inquiry being undertaken into the proposals of course.

Comment: This looks like a typical political compromise where Mr Khan is promoting his green credentials while at least pushing ahead with the urgently required new Silvertown Tunnel. But he has ducked some of the issues about the need for other crossings or a long term road structure plan. As Green Party London Assembly Member Caroline Russell has said, the measures appear to be “tokenistic”, i.e. it’s a political fudge to try and please eveyone.

Roger Lawson

Blackwall Tunnel Consultation

Transport for London (TfL) have launched a formal public consultation on proposals for a new Blackwall Tunnel to run alongside the existing one – called the Silvertown Tunnel. This is a summary they give of the reasons which certainly spells out why it is required:

“The Blackwall Tunnel is at the heart of east London’s strategic road network, linking the A12, the A13, the A2 and the A20. It is crucial to the success of the east London economy because it is the focus for most of the demand to cross the river by road in the east. The current levels of demand to use the Blackwall Tunnel greatly exceed the capacity of the tunnel, and there is regularly very significant congestion in and around the area. The tunnel itself was first opened in 1897 and was designed for horse & coaches. While the Blackwall Tunnel is accessible to most vehicles, it wasn’t designed for modern freight vehicles, or double deck buses. As a result, it is highly susceptible to disruptive incidents which can require that it be closed at very short notice.

The Silvertown Tunnel will reduce congestion at the Blackwall Tunnel, improve the resilience of the surrounding road network and support economic and population growth. In recognition of the importance of the project, it has been designated a ‘Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project’.”

A queue of traffic on the approach to Blackwall Tunnel

A queue of traffic on the approach to Blackwall Tunnel

The old Blackwall tunnel bores will remain in use. There would be a charge to use both the old tunnel and the new Silvertown Tunnel which is likely to be (at today’s prices – no doubt more when built), of £1 off peak and £3 at peak times (the latter being 06.00 to 10.00 northbound and 16.00 to 19.00 southbound) – it will be free before 06.00 and after 22.00 hours.

The charge will be collected and enforced by cameras as with the Dartford crossing (i.e. it will be a free flow system with no toll booths, which of course means that there will be enormous numbers of fines incurred). There may be discounts for account holders and 100% discount for blue badge holders, low emission vehicles, taxis, private hire vehicles, buses and a few other categories.

Environmental impacts seem to be either minimal, or positive.

This writer is certainly in favour of this proposal and considers that the sooner it is progressed the better. But I do not like the charging scheme.

If you use the Blackwall Tunnel, please be sure to submit your comments to the public consultation a.s.a.p. at this web address: www.tfl.gov.uk/silvertown-tunnel

Roger Lawson